Dec
05

Modern Love

Although it’s been a few weeks since my dinner date with BFF, Doug, I’m still reliving that glorious day – the day that I got to visit Isa Chandra’s very first vegan restaurant, located in Omaha, NE.

IT. WAS. BOMMMMB.

Modern Love

Although Doug is not a vegan, he agreed to escort me to the restaurant (I use the word escort because it’s funny). In the few years that I’ve known Doug, he’s allowed me to feed him foods that he thinks are “exotic” (like Brussels Sprouts and Bloody Mary’s). The dude is lucky to have me as a friend – COULD YOU IMAGINE A LIFE WITHOUT BRUSSELS AND BLOODY’S?? The boy is from the midwest and he likes fast food – I’m trying to hook him up.

Anyway, he GLADLY visited Modern Love with me because he trusts me and knows that I won’t steer him in the wrong direction. SPOILER ALERT: I am about to give you information that was meant to be shared at the end of this post: Doug ate his entire meal at Modern Love (even though he though he might not like it)!!! That’s a BIG DEAL!!!!

Modern Love

Modern Love

I’m pretty confident that we all the right choices, food-wise at the restaurant. I ordered the Chili and PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS – yes, we should re-visit what I just said in a moment – and Doug ordered the Seitan Schnitzel. We also ordered a side of kale – probably the best kale I’ve ever, ever, ever had. Modesty aside, it was DEFINITELY the best kale I’ve ever had. 

Modern Love

So, about that Chili served with a Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll AND – AND coconut whipped cream. Apparently, the chili/cinnamon roll combination is a “midwest thing” – they’ve been serving those two side-by-side for YEARS I’m told. I’m pissed because I’m from the midwest and no one ever told me about this remarkable combination. Doug’s all like “we’ve been eating cinnamon rolls with our chili forever and ever” and I’m all like “shut up….”

Regardless, I’m grateful to finally be “in-the-know”

So, when my mom came to Denver this past week to help me move, I made chili & cinnamon rolls. The night Patrick’s (boyfriend) parents met my mother, I made chili and cinnamon rolls. Football this weekend? I’ll probably make chili and cinnamon rolls.

Thanks, Isa.

Modern Love

Below is Doug – master vegan eater. He loved Modern Love so much that he took his carnivores parents there for his birthday. They won’t admit how much they loved the place, but I bet they cleaned their plates/bowls just like Dougy did.

Modern Love

 

On another note, I got to meet Isa while I was at Modern Love – I almost died but tried to remain calm. I didn’t take her photo, didn’t want to bother. Anyway, I idolize the chick because she is a badass vegan recipe creator. And her books are badass and her restaurant is badass. I begged her to open up in Denver but she’s not going to (boo) – she’s looking at LA though…. Anyway, Isa, if you’re reading this – I beg once more for some Modern Love in Denver. Kthanks.

Love

Crista


Apr
27

People assume that I love Nashville for one reason and one reason only: country music, however there are so many thins to love about Nashville besides the country music scene. I’ve had good luck shopping in Nashville (boots, jewelry, fringe vests, dresses, etc… SO MANY GOOD THINGS!!) but I’m also obsessed with the culinary scene in Nashville. In fact, one of the reasons that I can’t wait to get back to Nash is to visit more restaurants that sit on my bucket list. For example, I am obsessed with Catbird Seat but haven’t been able to get reservations – it’s complicated but I’m determined. I won’t stop going to Nashville until I get in.

Nashville is one of the fastest growing cities in the USA right now (who would have known) and it is THE place to be if you are gastronomically inclined.  

Nashville

 Whiskey Kitchen very quickly became one of my favorite restaurants in Nashville. I’ve been there every time I’ve been to Nashville, in fact I’ve gone twice on a few trips. Whiskey Kitchen is not far from downtown, and it’s easy to get to ($6-10 cab ride from downtown). The menu and food quality at Whiskey Kitchen is far superior to the restaurants on Broadway. Oh, and the outdoor patio doesn’t suck either. 

Wild Cow

In a town famous for hot chicken and southern fried flesh, Wild Cow is serving up delicious vegan fare in East Nashville, not far from downtown. I’ve had several good meals at Wild Cow, both lunch/brunch and dinner. If you have the idea in your head that Nashville is not a vegan-friendly city, one meal at the Wild Cow will prove you wrong. 

Mas Tacos Por Favor

Dubbed the “best thing in Nashville since Country Music,” Mas Tacos is obsessed over by  many Nashville locals but overlooked by tourists. So take my word for it, if you’re in Nash, visit Mas Tacos, Por Favor, por favor – even if it seems to be out of the way. It’s worth it if you appreciate damn good food. Oh, and order the Fried Avocado Taco, Horchata, and Plantains, por favor.

the Stone Fox

the Stone Fox

The Stone Fox is an adorable/quirky/eclectic music venue that serves “bar food” with a homespun twist. A little out of the way in West Nashville, Stone Fox is definitely worth the trek out for a damn good brunch or for dinner & drinks (& live music). This place will serve you homemade grub and make you feel at home so plan to stick around for a while on your visit, you probably won’t want to leave. After what may have been the biggest brunch I’ve ever had, I stuck around for 2 drinks at the bar after my meal. I’m not sure why I even left because I didn’t want to. Oh, and the Stone Fox is without a doubt vegan-friendly.

HUSK Nashville

Husk isn’t the type of place that you stumble upon on accident. If you find yourself at Husk, your trip was designed intentionally with a purpose. Husk is coveted by many locals and often times only visited on “special occasion”. Husk is a pretentious and well-respected restaurant. A celebration of southern food, the menu is well planned and changes daily. I made the mistake of walking in to Husk in my “honky-tonk gear” and I’ll never do that again. If you are visiting Husk, make a reservation and dress appropriately. Oh, and if you question whether or not you should or shouldn’t visit Husk, the answer is yes. You might as well call and get reservations now. 

cheesecake, vegan

My buddy Jack recently started selling his smoked cheesecakes after they became popular among many of his friends and acquaintances. Si’s Scrumptious Delights aka Jack’s smoked cheesecakes are available in the Nashville area and are made-to-order. If I lived in Nashville, I’d probably order at least one cheesecake every week. If you live in the area, you should probably call Jack immediately – I hear he can hook up a heart-shaped cheesecake around Valentines Day and he’s willing to cater your event. Oh, and he’s a wine connoisseur so he can hook you up with a pairing.

Nashville

On accident, I found vegan ice cream at Pied Piper in East Nash which I got to eat on their big porch after a long day of shopping. At an given time, Pied Piper has more than 24 flavors available, and they are delectable – atypical flavors like Avid Avocado, Basil Tomatillo Overdrive, and Aroma-therapy, you will want to try every single flavor in the case before making your final selection. 

Wild Cow

Although I’ve never actually been to Khan’s Desserts (do they even have a store front?), I’ve eaten several of their desserts at two different local veg restaurants, Wild Cow and Sunflower Cafe. Can I just say that Khan’s makes the Best Vegan Cupcakes EVERRRRR? I would know because I’ve tried them at least five times. I see there are 10-11 places around Nash that serve Khan’s desserts so they aren’t hard to get a hold of. You better, to see if I’m right….

Nashville

A few other places I’ve enjoyed and are worth visiting in Nashville include: the Sunflower Cafe (vegan), Pub 5 (the ONLY restaurant I’ll eat at downtown), Jeni’s Ice Cream (duh), and the Wrappers Delight Food Truck. Oh, and I like stopping in to the Turnip Truck for organic grocery items and drinks.

Love

Crista


Apr
13

Shortly after our arrival in to Nashville last weekend, we set out for Mas Tacos Por Favor, which was recommended to us by Whitney & Johnny, the Bluegrass Tour Bus owners. We were feeling slightly vulnerable in those first moments on the bus so we weren’t quite sure how to feel about their recommendation (an old ass tour bus parked in the ghetto can be slightly overwhelming) but we took the recommendation anyway. 

Mas Tacos Por Favor

 The building is a little sketchy on the outside but we felt instant relief upon entering. Immediately, we spotted a photo of Guy Fieri painted on the wall which led us to the assumption that Mas Tacos Por Favor has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. (we were right, by the way)

Mas Tacos Por Favor

Mas Tacos

I was pretty satisfied with the meal I had at Mas Tacos, considering they had two AMAZING vegetarian taco options: Fried Avocado & Quinoa + Sweet Potato. I certainly wasn’t mad about the Plantains, the Black Bean Soup, or the Horchata either. Oh, and Laura obsessed over the Pineapple Cilantro fruit drink. I am mad at myself for not trying it…. (but the Horchata was soooo good) 

Mas Tacos

Mas Tacos

It was so nice to start our trip off with an amazing meal. We had plans of visiting Mas Tacos a few more times during our weekend in Nashville but we never did make it back. Next time, for sure. 

Love

Crista


Apr
03

Old Town Omaha

There are some cities that are vegetarian-friendly and some that just aren’t. I would have never guessed Omaha to have an abundance of vegetarian options but I’ve been pleasantly surprised in my recent 3-4 trips there. Actually, I’ve never had a bad meal in Omaha, food is GOOD there. I’ve actually told a few of my friends I want to take them to Omaha just to check out a few of the awesome restaurants there. They look at me like I’m crazy.

Read on for some of my faves.

Old Town Omaha

At M’s Pub, they serve a Carrot Dog in the same fashion that you would see a Bratwurst served. Instead of the brat, you get a marinated carrot topped with sauerkraut, mustard, and relish (all homemade by the way). I’ve gone to M’s Pub several times to get this same Carrot Dog – it really is unique and tasty. I’d like to make it at home but I don’t think I can make the sauerkraut and relish quite like M’s can make it.

M’s Pub is located in the Old Market area and it sits right next to a women’s clothing boutique that I love to shop in. If the weather is nice, you can sit outside on the patio and people watch – it’s great.

Dixie Quicks

 I’ve been to DIXIE QUICKS several times, and I’ve even blogged about it. It is not located in Omaha, it’s actually in Council Bluffs, IA which is just 10-15 minutes from Omaha – it’s totally worth making the trip out to visit Dixie Quicks. The place is rad and the food is good. I love their cornbread, brussels sprouts, black bean quesadilla, and house salad (the salad dressing is amazing).

Kitchen Table

Check out this meal I ordered at Kitchen Table: a mug of White Beans, Nicoise Olives, & Roasted Tomatoes, a fresh Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, AND a Cauliflower Jam Sandwich. Ok, check out the ingredients on that sandwich: a cauliflower steak, mozzarella, sprouted chickpea pesto, and roasted red pepper jam. SO GOOD. Every single bite was SO GOOD.

Kitchen Table is located in Old Market and they offer “slow food fast”. Their menu rocks they have enough vegan/vegetarian options to choose from – eel, it satisfied my needs. I notice they have two vegan soups on their menu of the day today: “Cream” of Beet Soup with Vegan Cream Fraiche & Aloo Gobi Soup. I wish I were there to try them….

On another note, I like how Kitchen table serves their meals with a side of seasoned popcorn and a turmeric pickled cauliflower.

Wilson & Washburn 
By far, the best meal I’ve had in Omaha was at Wilson & Washburn. To start, I ordered not one, not two, but THREE orders of the Beet Chips which are flash fried and doused with malt vinegar and kosher salt. (uhm, YUM) I ate so many of those damn chips that I was peeing pink. I managed to get the recipe for them from the bartender – I’m definitely going to make an attempt at making them.

Then, that burger – it is also made with beets. That Beet Burger is paired with house smoked peanut butter and pickled jalapeños. Hands down, it was the BEST burger I have EVER had. I had to eat it slow because it packed so much flavor. Yum.

Wilson & Washburn

Two Birds Bakery

Friends of mine from Omaha gifted me with these vegan treats from Two Birds Bakery which is located in Elkhorn, NE. I’ve not actually been to the bakery but I have a feeling it sits in the outskirts of Omaha. All of the baked goods were really really good but one muffin I had was outstanding – it was made with curry and coconut. Two Birds doesn’t produce “typical” baked goods- as far as I can see, everything I had was spiced and unique in flavor.

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A few other restaurants that I’ve been to and really enjoyed in Omaha are SALT 88 and Indian Oven – both restaurants were recommended by different friends.

SALT 88 sits in a strip mall but is very impressive on the inside – doesn’t look like a “strip mall” restaurant on the inside, it’s very modern. I remember eating an AMAZING arugula salad there. AND I remember being served cotton candy at the end of my meal. I LOVE cotton candy!

Indian Oven is located in the Old Market, their food is actually really good, it’s hard to find good Indian food. I was there with a group of people so I sampled many of the dishes – my favorite was the Maah Dhal.

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I hear Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob & Jade Garden are also good restaurants to visit, I haven’t been to either of them YET. 

Also, I hear Isa Chandra is opening up a vegan eatery in Omaha soon, Modern Love. I hope I can get there next time I visit Omaha. 

Foodies, are you planning a “vacation” to Omaha now? Ha! 

Love

Crista


Dec
18

Vegetarian Fast Food

Last night, I picked up dinner from a favorite restaurant of mine, a place I haven’t been to in over a year. The restaurant is called Vegetarian Fast Food, located in Glendale Heights, IL. I stumbled upon this place on accident one day while working out in the suburbs, I’m thankful I did – this unassuming little restaurant serves up some amazing Indian Food. Chicagoans, if you enjoy going to Devon Street for Indian food, you should consider taking the drive out to Glendale Heights to visit my guy at VFF someday. Just saying.

Vegetarian Fast Food

The little Indian guy behind the counter recognizes my face and remembers everything I like. He has always made sure I go home with everything I like and he always adds something new that I haven’t tried. Last night, while I waited he served me up some Indian Tea. It’s similar to a chai tea – he showed me how to re-create it at home. I’ll keep you updated after I try it.

Vegetarian Fast Food

While dude was serving me tea, his wife was busy in the back preparing this amazing meal. LOOK AT ALL THAT FOOD! 7 different dishes, plus rice, plus naan, plus 2 desserts. I had a foodgasm just looking at all of it. Oh, and can you believe all of that cost me less than $25?

Vegetarian Fast FoodVegetarian Fast FoodVegetarian Fast FoodVegetarian Fast Food

I don’t know what all of those dishes are called and if I asked, I wouldn’t understand what dude told me. I do know that squiggly looking dessert is called Jalebi. It is made of a deep-fried wheat flour batter soaked in sugar syrup. Sounds like something you could get at the state fair, right? Ridiculous & good.

Vegetarian Fast Food
185 E Army Trail Rd, Glendale Heights, IL 60139

Love

Crista


Dec
15

Last weekend, I had brunch at Karyn’s Raw for the very first time. I have dined there several times, but somehow I wasn’t aware of the fact that they do a brunch buffet on Sundays.

Karyn's Raw

I learned of the buffet from one of their newsletters that advertised the buffet for only $19.99. I felt like it was a joke – a RAW buffet, all-you-can-eat for only $19.99!?!? 

Karyn's Raw

Well, it’s true my friends. I talked to Karyn myself, and she said that she is going to keep the raw buffet that price for the remainder of the winter. This deal is rare, the normal price of the buffet is $29.99.

Dear Chicagoans or anyone visiting Chicago soon, GET THERE.

Some of my favorite items on the buffet last week included the Kale & Quinoa Salad, Thai Veggie Stir Fry with Kelp Noodles + Peanut Sauce, Bean Burro, Dinner Roll + Gravy, and the Sweet Flat Bread.

Beyonce + Karyn Calabrese
*Photo from Karyn's Instagram feed

In other news, Beyonce (yes, THE Beyonce) just stopped in to one of Karyn’s restaurants, Karyn’s Cooked while she was on tour in Chicago. Maybe you haven’t heard the news, Beyonce & Jay-Z are on a 22-day plant-based vegan diet. Why 22 days? Because it take 21 days to form a habit and on the 22nd day, you have found the way. I hope they stick with it after the 22 days are up and if not, I hope they gain a new level of consciousness and inspire others to try a plant-based lifestyle.

Love

Crista


Nov
10

Leaf Vegetarian

When I was in Boulder, CO, I had lunch twice. Don’t judge me. I was on a solo vacation, I could do whatever I wanted to do. My early lunch was at modmarket, it was OK.. maybe nothing to brag about. Not saying I wouldn’t go back there again…. 

I had a late lunch at Leaf Vegetarian. I couldn’t help it. I was dying to check out the place. I walked in around 2:30 or 3:00 PM just in time for Happy Hour. I had the restaurant all to myself. 

Leaf VegetarianLeaf Vegetarian

The Happy Hour menu was small and sufficient. It took only seconds for me to decide what I’d order: Pimento Cheese Poppers (mostly for the apple-peace chutney) and the Celeriac Gnocchi. The Celeriac Gnocchi dish is made with a rich sweet potato cream made by cooking the sweet potatoes in cream and then blending the sweet potato and cream together. DE-CA-DENT. I didn’t ask if it was vegan cream, I’m going to have to assume not. Regardless, it made me happy. I’m going to give that sweet potato cream a whirl at home. But what would I put it on… should I re-create this same dish at home?? 

Leaf Vegetarian

yum.

Leaf Vegetarian

I didn’t have dessert, I didn’t need it. But now I’m kind of regretting it… ha!

Leaf Vegetarian

Leaf Vegetarian, 2010 16th Street Boulder, CO 80302

Love

Crista


Oct
16

Every time I mention Omaha, people pity me for having to visit – however it is one of my favorite places to go (for work trips). The #1 reason I like visiting Omaha is because I eat good while I’m there. Old Town OmahaOld Town Omaha

After I have fulfilled my work day, I like to hang out in the Old Town area which is right Downtown Omaha. The area is filled with warehouse-like buildings, brick-lined streets, great local restaurants, and cute boutiques.
Old Town OmahaOld Town Omaha

Nouvelle Eve is my favorite boutique to shop for clothing & jewelry.Old Town Omaha

In Old Town, the street performers seem to be out all day every day, but the weekends are especially active. I took the photo above last Thursday afternoon, I loved that guy playing the sax. On that beautiful day, I sat down and listened to him play for a while….

Old Town OmahaOld Town OmahaOld Town Omaha

M’s Pub is one of my favorite restaurants in Old Town. I’ve eaten there several times and have never had a bad meal.

Old Town OmahaOld Town Omaha

The Sicilian Lahvosh (garlic, basil, tomato, and mixed olives) is my favorite favorite favorite appetizer. Lahvosh is a thin flatbread made with flour, water, and salt. The dough is rolled out flat and slapped against the hot walls of a clay oven.

Old Town Omaha
And this Carrot Dog is unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It is served up like a bratwurst (complete with sauerkraut, relish, and stone ground mustard) with a marinated & grilled carrot acting as the “brat”. I am definitely going to try to make this at home some day.Old Town OmahaOld Town OmahaOld Town OmahaOld Town OmahaOld Town Omaha

 “Do I look like a desperate housewife?? I wondered as I drove around in my BMW rental….
(i thought i was so cool)

Old Town OmahaOld Town Omaha

aaaaand allow me to introduce you to Beyonce, the giant metal Chicken – I can not even express my excitement over finding her through this blog – I freaked out the moment I laid eyes on her. To understand, you must read this blog post: And that’s why you should learn to pick your battles

Old Town Omaha

 

Isn’t she gorgeous?

Love

Crista


Oct
07

HandlebarHandlebarHandlebar
My buddy, Doug was in from out-of-town (Omaha) over the weekend so we took him out for a late night on Friday – Big Star & Boystown…. He overdid it and puked the entire night. Ew. But… what can you expect? It was his first time…. So anyway, he was desperate for a hangover cure which required us to hang around Handlebar for Bloody Mary’s. Perfect, right? I thought so.
Handlebar
Well, problem is: my little friend Doug-E-Fresh has never had a bloody mary. And he didn’t like it. I encouraged him to just do it. Just drink it. Drink the entire thing. It’s an acquired taste. It took me two or three bloody’s before I loved. But he wouldn’t. So I had to do it for him. ((the look on his face is priceless…. and disappointing)
HandlebarHandlebar
Handlebar
There are two places in the city that serve up our “favorite” bloody mary’s. Rocking Horse & Handlebar. If I had to choose my favorite FAVORITE between the two, I don’t think I could.  Handlebar has better food so……..
Handlebar
We have become quite the bloody mary snobs this summer… In fact, I will only drink a bloody mary made with a house-made mix. I will NOT drink a bloody mary that is made with a pre-made mix. blagh.
One of my favorite things about Handlebar’s bloody mary’s are the cherry peppers they garnish with – my favorite garnish EVER. Oh, AND the fried pickle. Yeah, that rocks too.

Handlebar
Yesterday, I mentioned the vegan biscuits and gravy at Stone Fox in Nashville. Well guess what? Handlebar has vegan biscuits & gravy too. Score.
HandlebarHandlebar
I’m sad that patio season is coming to an end here in Chicago….. really really really sad.
Handlebar

Love

Crista


Aug
24

Peoria, IL is one of those places that I MUST visit for work 3-4 times a year. Although it’s a small town with not much going on, I have found a few places that I like to visit each time I’m there, which gives me something to look forward to. I have found a yoga studio, a cute boutique hotel, a natural food grocery store, and the One World Cafe. The first time I ever went to OWC, I posted a photo of the menu on Instagram and one of my buddies commented saying that he LOVES this place!! (I had no idea he had even been to Peoria). After his approval, I knew I had found a deeeecent place to dine.

One World Cafe

One World Cafe
 Located within the vicinity of Bradley University, the place is filled with young creative people and college students, offering a sense of community in an artistic atmosphere and if a hipster exists in Peoria, IL, he/she is probably hanging out at the One World Cafe. When I walk in to the OWC, the staff welcomes me as if I’m a regular an on my most recent trip to OWC, I walked in with my camera which received immediate attention from the staff. One of the bartenders had just finished going to school for Photography and he took some time out to show me some of his work (all of the photos that OWC uses on their menus and table talkers). I overheard another bartender express interest in starting a blog, I never did find out what she’d blog about…..

One World Cafe
There aren’t many vegan/gluten-free-friendly restaurants in Peoria, but the OWC has an extensive menu, including those options. With simple ingredients turned in to delicious meals with diverse flavors, the OWC infuses their dishes with flavors found all over the world, or so they say. In my opinion, the menu is diverse, but full of simple, familiar dishes.

One World Cafe
On my most recent trip to OWC, I took the servers recommendation and ordered the Herbivorian wrap, stuffed with a slew of fresh veggies and house-made hummus. (I was torn between that and the Tomato Melt, which is what I’ll order next time.) Served with my veggie wrap was this homemade veggie cream cheese, which I originially declined. Thanks to the server who insist that I try to veggie cream cheese, it offered a boost of flavor and took that veggie wrap to a whole new level. Boom.

One World Cafe

One World Cafe

My beverage of choice: Housemade Iced Berry Green Tea + raw turbinado sugar. Refreshing.

One World Cafe

One World Cafe
As I continue traveling to Peoria, I will continue to visit One World Cafe. Up until my most recent trip when I was introduced to Peoria Heights, I was under the impression that OWC was the only hotspot in Peoria. Now that I’ve been introduced to the Heights, I’m excited to go back and check out some more local restaurants (and boutiques).


One World Cafe 

1245 W Main St, Peoria, IL 61606
309.672.1522

Love

Crista